Author Archives: Mark

On to Victory!

We’re get­ting close to the end! Day 30 of our month-long online Jack Kir­by Art Trib­ute. Suggested/sponsored by Howard Simp­son, you can find the work online on your favorite social media plat­forms by the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

I’m going off-menu again today. The prompt sug­gests doing a “Kir­by Col­lage,” of the type Jack was known for doing in his spare time, some­times even find­ing ways to use them in his comics. But I could­n’t think of a way to do that and have it fit in the­mat­i­cal­ly with the rest of what I’m doing. So instead, I chose to draw Cap­tain Victory.

This was the title that launched a brand new com­ic com­pa­ny in the ear­ly ’80s, Pacif­ic Comics. As men­tioned yes­ter­day, the fact that Jack Kir­by was doing a com­ic for a new start­up pub­lish­er and not for Mar­vel or DC again, was a Big Deal. It was thought that the “Big Two” were real­ly the only game in town, so it can’t be over­stat­ed that this was big news.

One of the rea­sons Kir­by was will­ing to do this was con­tained right there in the indi­cia in the front of the book: “™ & © Jack Kir­by.” This was­n’t some­thing he was ever like­ly to get from Mar­vel or DC, and I’m sure the var­i­ous frus­tra­tions he’d had with both pub­lish­ers at dif­fer­ent points over the years were also part of his inter­est in going inde­pen­dent again (like he and Joe Simon had tried once before with Mainline).

The sto­ry of Cap­tain Vic­to­ry and his Galac­tic Rangers was inspired at least in part by Jack watch­ing E.T. and think­ing that “first con­tact” was not like­ly to be so benign. In fact, con­sid­er­ing some of the things that hap­pened when explor­ers came from Europe to the “New World,” Jack thought more like­ly it could go hor­ri­bly wrong..for us! And that was the seed of the story.

Front and cen­ter you’ve got Cap­tain Vic­to­ry. Behind him to the left is Major Klavus, and to the right is Tarin.

Hope you like it. One more to go!

Silver Star

This is Day 29 of our month-long Jack Kir­by Trib­ute online. The brain­child of Howard Simp­son, you’ll be able to find the work of par­tic­i­pants on your favorite social media plat­forms by the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

I actu­al­ly post­ed today’s prompt (a Jack Kir­by por­trait) yes­ter­day, in hon­or of Jack­’s birth­day. So today is catch­ing up with yes­ter­day’s prompt: Sil­ver Star.

There are sev­er­al unique things about this char­ac­ter. One is (if I’m not mis­tak­en) the sto­ry start­ed off as a screen­play, and Jack turned it into this lim­it­ed series (The cov­ers have a bul­let read­ing “A Visu­al Nov­el.”). I believe Jack orig­i­nal­ly thought in terms of his Fourth World series at DC as an epic sto­ry that would come to a def­i­nite con­clu­sion, but he was­n’t allowed to do that then. Lim­it­ed series, or minis­eries, just weren’t some­thing comics pub­lish­ers did yet in those days. If a book was a suc­cess, they want­ed it to just keep going and going as long as possible.

The oth­er thing about Sil­ver Star was the fact it was not pub­lished by Mar­vel or DC! Pacif­ic Comics was a start­up pub­lish­er look­ing to estab­lish them­selves as a sol­id alter­na­tive in the mar­ket­place. Though Jack had done work for oth­er pub­lish­ers over the years, at this point in time the “Big Two” were thought to be the only real game in town. So the news that no less a per­son­age than Jack Kir­by him­self was going to cre­ate new comics for a new pub­lish­er was a Big Deal. It can’t be over­stat­ed how big that news was at the time. Pacif­ic kicked things off with Cap­tain Vic­to­ry (stay tuned), but Sil­ver Star was Jack­’s next offer­ing through them.

And this part is impor­tant: the indi­cias for both books read “™ & © Jack Kir­by.” This was some­thing he was­n’t going to get at either Mar­vel or DC, so I’m sure it mat­tered a great deal to him. Jack­’s inspi­ra­tion for the name appears to have come from the Sil­ver Star Medal award­ed by the US mil­i­tary for val­or in com­bat. In fact, in the sto­ry, Jack has Mor­gan Miller gain­ing the nick­name from his squad after he’s been award­ed the Sil­ver Star.

In the back­ground of this image is the antag­o­nist of the sto­ry, Dar­ius Drumm. I’ve nev­er tried to draw these char­ac­ters before, so that was a bit of a chal­lenge. I’m still not quite sure just how Sil­ver Star’s hel­met works…

Hope you enjoy, and please tune in again tomorrow!

The King

It’s the 28th Day of our month-long online Jack Kir­by Trib­ute, suggested/sponsored by Howard Simp­son. You can find the work on your favorite social media plat­forms by the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

Today’s prompt is sup­posed to be Jack­’s Sil­ver Star char­ac­ter, but I’m tak­ing the lib­er­ty of shift­ing things around a lit­tle bit. Instead, I’m doing tomor­row’s prompt: “Jack Kir­by por­trait— Draw a por­trait of Jack Kir­by him­self.” My rea­son­ing is because today is actu­al­ly Jack Kir­by’s birth­day! Born in 1917, this would be his 106th birth­day today (if my math is right). So I feel like post­ing the por­trait today is appro­pri­ate. A con­fes­sion: I’m not real­ly a por­trait kind of artist. It took some work to get this to where I felt com­fort­able with it, but I did get there.

The King’s lega­cy lives on in all the great work he left us, and all the cre­ative inspi­ra­tion he’s pro­vid­ed. There are some artists who make you feel like giv­ing up, break­ing your pen­cils and walk­ing away, because you’ll nev­er be as good as they are. But then there are artists like Kir­by who, although you know you can’t do what he did, there’s some­thing in the work that fires you up and inspires you to go and create!

I hope you like my attempt at por­trai­ture here, and tune in again tomor­row to see my shot at Sil­ver Star.

The Fourth Host

This is Day 27 of the month-long online Jack Kir­by Trib­ute, suggest/sponsored by Howard Simp­son. If you’d like to see what oth­er cre­ators might be doing, you can use the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

The prompt for today sim­ply reads “The Celes­tials.” These char­ac­ters come from Jack Kir­by’s The Eter­nals book, one of the new titles he cre­at­ed when he returned to Mar­vel in the mid-’70s. As men­tioned in oth­er posts, it appears to me that at this point in his career, Jack just want­ed to have his own cor­ner where he could be left alone to do his own thing, and to let oth­ers do their own thing, no one get­ting in any­one’s way.

The Eter­nals seemed to be Jack tak­ing inspi­ra­tion from the Erich Von Däniken book, Char­i­ots of the Gods?, which the­o­rized vis­its by alien astro­nauts to our world in ancient times, shap­ing and influ­enc­ing the growth of our cul­ture. It was fuel for Kir­by to tell an epic sto­ry about three groups of human­i­ty: the Eter­nals (whom many myths are built around), nor­mal mankind, and the Deviants. Watch­ing and stand­ing in judg­ment over all are the Celes­tials, and the begin­ning of the book saw their return to Earth as the Fourth Host.

Kir­by’s designs for the Celes­tials were some of the most imag­i­na­tive char­ac­ter visu­als he’d ever come up with. Beings almost beyond com­pre­hen­sion, they did­n’t even have what you would be able to call faces.

It was­n’t pos­si­ble to draw all the Celes­tials here in this space. There are just way too many of them. So I opt­ed to draw the three I found the most visu­al­ly inter­est­ing. Arishem the Judge is front and cen­ter. On the left is Nez­zar the Cal­cu­la­tor, and on the right is Eson the Searcher.

Hope you enjoy, and please feel free to tune in again tomorrow!

Cap and Bucky

It’s Day 26 of the Kir­by Art Trib­ute, suggested/sponsored by Howard Simp­son. You can find the work of those par­tic­i­pat­ing on your social media plat­form of choice by using the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

Today’s prompt is Cap­tain Amer­i­ca and Bucky. Cre­at­ed by Joe Simon and Jack Kir­by for Time­ly (Mar­vel) back in the Gold­en Age, they had a huge hit on their hands. While Cap­tain Amer­i­ca and Bucky are most­ly thought of as being patri­ot­ic heroes who fought the Axis, I dis­cov­ered some­thing inter­est­ing on re-read­ing their ear­ly tales: with all the mon­sters etc. they went up against, Cap and Buck­y’s sto­ries seem to be very much inspired by the “weird men­ace” pulp genre. If you think about it, the Red Skull and how they wrote him at that point would’ve fit in very well in a “weird men­ace” pulp sto­ry. Which is why I opt­ed to make this a night scene.

Joe and Jack only did the first ten issues of Cap­tain Amer­i­ca Comics, after which they left Time­ly. They believed that pub­lish­er Mar­tin Good­man was not liv­ing up to their prof­it-shar­ing agree­ment, so they jumped over to DC where they cre­at­ed a slew of char­ac­ters like Guardian and the News­boy Legion, the Boy Com­man­dos, and their ver­sions of Man­hunter and Sand­man.

Jack had two oth­er runs with Cap­tain Amer­i­ca. The sec­ond one was in the ’60s, after Time­ly had turned into Mar­vel and “Stanand­Jack” was often treat­ed as if it was one word. That run had some­thing of a James Bond/secret agent feel, hav­ing Cap work­ing close­ly with Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. Jack­’s third run was when he returned to Mar­vel in the mid-’70s, and that was him work­ing solo that time.

An aside: Cap­tain Amer­i­ca was­n’t Joe and Jack­’s only shot at a patri­ot­ic hero. In the ’50s, they also did Fight­ing Amer­i­can and his side­kick, Speed­boy. An inter­est­ing aspect of that strip is that it start­ed off as a straight anti-com­mu­nist super­hero adven­ture, but then piv­ot­ed fair­ly rapid­ly into a very fun­ny super­hero satire, pre-dat­ing the camp craze of the ’60s.

That’s it for today. Feel free to pop by again tomorrow!

The Black Panther, and His Unexpected Adventures

Amaz­ing­ly, I’ve made it here to Day 25 of the month-long online Jack Kir­by Art Trib­ute, sponsored/suggested by Howard Simp­son. I was­n’t sure I was going to get through all of these, but here we are! It’s open to all cre­atives, and you can find the work on your favorite social media plat­forms by the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

The prompt for today reads: “Draw a char­ac­ter or scene from Jack Kir­by’s Black Pan­ther series.” I chose to draw Black Pan­ther him­self, along with Princess Zan­da and Abn­er Lit­tle, two oth­er key char­ac­ters from that run.

When Kir­by left DC to make his return to Mar­vel in the ’70s, and fans heard he was going to do a Black Pan­ther title, many expect­ed he would just pick up the same con­ti­nu­ities and types of sto­ries that pre­vi­ous cre­ators had been doing with the char­ac­ter. But that was­n’t what they got, and some were appar­ent­ly dis­ap­point­ed. At this point in Kir­by’s career, he seemed to want to be allowed to just have a lit­tle cor­ner of his own where he could do his own thing with­out imping­ing on what oth­er cre­ators might be doing, or hav­ing oth­ers impinge on his creativity.

You have to take Jack­’s Black Pan­ther run on its own terms. His view of the char­ac­ter and the sto­ries he want­ed to tell with him seemed to have roots in the types of exot­ic adven­ture sto­ries H. Rid­er Hag­gard used to write, like King Solomon’s Mines, or She. If this com­ic had come out four or five years lat­er, read­ers might have asso­ci­at­ed it with the sorts of arcane arche­ol­o­gy Indi­ana Jones delved into in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Hope you enjoy, and feel free to tune in again tomorrow!

That Old Devil…Dinosaur

And we’ve reached Day 24 of Howard Simp­son’s month-long Jack Kir­by Trib­ute, in hon­or of Jack­’s birth­day this month! It’s open to all cre­atives, and you can find their posts on your favorite social media plat­forms via the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

Today’s prompt: “Draw a char­ac­ter or scene from Jack Kir­by’s Dev­il Dinosaur series.” I’ve drawn Dev­il him­self, and his part­ner Moon Boy here.

When Kir­by returned to Mar­vel in the ’70s, many were expect­ing Jack to be work­ing with oth­er writ­ers (like he had with Stan Lee pre­vi­ous­ly). But this time around, Jack pre­ferred to just have his own lit­tle cor­ner where he did his own thing. Dev­il Dinosaur was one of the new titles he came up with.

The book seemed like per­haps it was aimed at a younger audi­ence (It would’ve made a sol­id Sat­ur­day morn­ing car­toon). Artis­ti­cal­ly, like all Kir­by books, it had its moments (there’s an espe­cial­ly imag­i­na­tive two-page spread that can stand with the best two-page spreads Kir­by ever did). There was also a bit of fun in the fact they’d play around with dif­fer­ent inkers on many of the cov­ers (like they also did on his Machine Man covers).

Nev­er tried to draw Dev­il Dinosaur before! Bill Stout or Ricar­do Del­ga­do I’m not, but I had fun try­ing it. Hope you enjoy! And tune in again tomor­row to see what’s next.

Mr. Sandman…Again

It’s now Day 23 of Howard Simp­son’s month-long Jack Kir­by Trib­ute. Any cre­atives are free to play along, and you can find their posts on your favorite social media plat­forms with the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

Today’s prompt is “Draw a char­ac­ter or scene from Jack Kir­by’s Sand­man series. (Gar­rett San­ford).” That last part threw me slight­ly. So far as I knew, the char­ac­ter nev­er had a name. But I dis­cov­ered it was some­thing added by oth­ers lat­er on.

Once I got past my slight con­fu­sion over the oth­er name, I knew which Sand­man was being talked about. Jack and Joe Simon had done their take on Sand­man for DC ear­li­er, in the Gold­en Age (I drew him ear­li­er here). Late in Jack­’s time at DC in the ’70s, the con­cept was revis­it­ed and rein­vent­ed from the ground up. The script for the first issue was by Joe Simon, which (unless I’m mis­tak­en) was the first time Joe and Jack had been teamed togeth­er on a com­ic since they dis­solved their part­ner­ship back in the ’50s.

This book is a bit of an odd one. It had no con­nec­tion to any of the oth­er titles Jack was doing for DC then, and was tonal­ly dif­fer­ent from all of them, seem­ing to skew more towards younger read­ers. Though that first issue man­aged some creepy scenes with the Werblink dolls.

I recall read­ing Carmine Infan­ti­no say­ing that Sand­man sold real­ly well for DC. I guess they were caught off-guard, because there’s a gap of a year between issue #1 and #2! And while Kir­by did all the cov­ers, he was­n’t back doing the inte­ri­ors until issue #4. They only got six issues out total. Issue #6 had Wal­ly Wood inking!

Any­way, in addi­tion to Sand­man him­self, I drew his side­kicks Brute and Glob. I kind of wavered on the silli­ness of hav­ing Glob give him rab­bit ears, but felt ulti­mate­ly like it would be right for that book and these char­ac­ters, tonally.

Hope you like it, and please feel free to tune back in tomorrow!

New Genesis Is Calling

This is Day 22 of Howard Simp­son’s month-long Jack Kir­by Trib­ute, in hon­or of the King’s birth­day this month. It’s open to all cre­atives, and you can find their trib­utes on your favorite social media plat­forms by the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

Today’s prompt is Jack Kir­by’s New Gods. This was a key book in his Fourth World saga. Those who know their Kir­by know that one of the things that always fas­ci­nat­ed him and found its way into his work were myths and leg­ends (as seen in Thor for Mar­vel). The con­cep­tu­al seed of New Gods seemed to be “The old gods in the myths and leg­ends of the past are some­thing of a larg­er-than-life embod­i­ment of the qual­i­ties those peo­ple prized. What are the con­cepts we val­ue in our mod­ern world, and how would you embody those?”

Obvi­ous­ly this isn’t all of the New Gods char­ac­ters. It would’ve been impos­si­ble to do in this space. So I lim­it­ed this to those who appeared in the New Gods title, who I had­n’t already depict­ed (like Ori­on), and only those from New Gen­e­sis, not from Apokalips (like Dark­seid). That leaves (from left to right) Metron in his Mobius Chair, High­fa­ther, and Ligh­tray. At the bot­tom is young Esak. It was still a chal­lenge to try to fit all these char­ac­ters in!

I hope you like it, and please feel free to come back again tomorrow.

The One Man Army Corps

It’s now Day 21, three full weeks of Howard Simp­son’s month-long Jack Kir­by Trib­ute! You can find peo­ple’s Kir­by Trib­utes on your favorite social media plat­forms by the hash­tag #Kir­b­yArt­Trib­ut­es.

Today’s prompt: “Draw a char­ac­ter or scene from Jack Kir­by’s OMAC series.” I went with Omac him­self, the One Man Army Corps.

Of all the post-Fourth World titles Kir­by cre­at­ed for DC, OMAC unfor­tu­nate­ly was the short­est-lived. It last­ed for only eight issues, and the last issue came to a very abrupt forced end­ing that was jolt­ing and high­ly unsat­is­fy­ing for readers.

The length of the book’s run should not be tak­en as any kind of indi­ca­tion of the book’s qual­i­ty. This title was where Jack put out some of his wildest sci fi con­jec­tures about what The World That’s Com­ing might be like. In the first issue, he had a room where a cor­po­ra­tion encour­aged employ­ees to go in and destroy things, get all their aggres­sions out. This was well before such things came about in real life!

Maybe some of the ideas were just a bit too out there for some read­ers? The rest of us were cap­ti­vat­ed, and wished Jack had been allowed to continue.

Hope you like, and feel free to tune in again tomorrow!